Africa, the land of tall trees, diverse wildlife, and colourful people is a blend of many languages. The French language is a dominant language in some African countries. So, in this article, we will be unveiling the Francophone countries of Africa.
French- the language of sophistication and elegance- is the fifth most spoken language in the world with about 400 million speakers. How many of these French speakers are Africans, and how many African countries are francophone countries?
We will be providing answers to this question in today’s post. Read on!
French-speaking countries in Africa
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Ivory Coast
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- Republic of the Congo
The French Speaking Countries in Africa 2024
29 African countries speak French, but 21 nations recognize the language as one of their official languages. Just like the British Empire, France colonised some African nations. Eventually, these nations adopted French as an official language.
Africa has the largest French-speaking population, easily outnumbering France by over 200 million people. Frenchside estimates there will be 700 million French speakers in 2050, and 80% of this population will be of African descent.
Hence, note the African countries that will significantly influence the estimated 2050 population.
In descending order, these are Francophone countries in Africa:
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
According to Worldatlas, DRC has the highest French-speaking population in the world. It outranks France with a whooping 77 million speakers! Its speakers make up 17% of the global French-speaking population.
According to the 2014 report of the Organization Internationale de la Francophone (OIF), 33 million DRC citizens are fluent readers and writers of the French language.
Ironically, French is just one of the country’s official languages. DRC is home to about 80 ethnic groups- so other languages like Lingala, and Kikongo also share the official-language status with French.
Madagascar, the fifth largest island in the world, is the second largest African country that speaks French. Located on the Indian Ocean, close to Southern Africa, Madagascar boasts a population of an estimated 25 million people. The country’s official languages are French and Malagasy- and French is considered secondary to Malagasy.
Located in the heart of Central Africa is the magnificent country of Cameroon. Its flourishing landscape promises sites of thriving rain forests and beautiful Savanna. Cameroon is popularly known for its Mount Cameroon- the highest peak in Central Africa- and its Waza national park. Its population of over 23 million people consist of over 200 indigenous tribes- where over 50% of the population are French speakers.
Cameroon’s unique accommodation of many languages made it accept English and French as its official languages.
The land of Ivory boasts a population of 22 million people. Many of this population are French speakers since the country adopted French for its administrative and educational use. Nevertheless, the Ivory Coast is a mosaic of over 70 distinct languages. So, most indigenous people speak their dialect compared to the official language.
Just like its sister countries, Niger accommodates multiple languages but adopts French as a Language authority. It has helped build a form of national unity among its citizens.
Situated alongside some West African nations lies Burkina Faso- the home of exotic elephants and different species of Antelopes. The Burkina Faso Republic has a population of 18 million people familiar with French. As the lingua franca of the nation, they interact with the language.
The ancient Mali civilization, was colonized by France in 1892. Hence, most of its citizens spoke French. After gaining their independence, the Mali government adopted French as the nation’s primary language.
13% of its 19 million citizens are fluent in oral and written French while others only speak the language. Other languages you might in Mali include Hausa, Songhai, and Arabic.
Senegal is ranked 8th position in the list of African countries that speak French. It adopts French as its authority language and has government and educational records in French. However, its indigenous language: Wolof, holds significant lingual power.
The fifth-largest African country has a population of 14 million people who are mostly speakers of French. The country recognizes two languages: Arabic and French.
Guinea is located in Western Africa and was the first country to break away from the French Union. Yet, it still kept French as its official language. Two languages hold the official lingua franca status in Guinea: French and Susu.
Although Rwanda was colonized by the French, the nation forged a different path. Only 6% of Rwandans speak French because English- the most spoken language in the world- was gradually gaining traction in the nation.
Rwanda recognizes its Bantu language- Kinyarwanda as its prevalent language. In Rwanda, English and French are secondary languages to Kinyarwanda.
Burundi also follows Rwanda’s footsteps. It recognizes its Bantu origins and speaks Kirundi as its lingua franca. Due to global impact and international trade, Burundi also adopted English as an official language. Like Rwanda, Burundi is located in East Africa and was colonized by the French.
Enshrined in the languages of the Benin people are Ge, Bariba, Yoruba, and several other languages. However, French as their official language has created uniformity among the diverse ethnic groups.
41% of Togo’s population are French speakers. This is likely due to the government’s strategic application of the language in its official work and Educational sector. Other prevalent languages in the region are Ewe and Kabiye.
Central African Republic
This nation uses French as its official language, but most of its citizens speak Sangho. Only about 29% of its population speaks French.
Republic of the Congo
Known for its idyllic beaches, the Republic of Congo has a population of about 4 million citizens. Well, 61% of that population are French speakers while others speak the local language.
Gabon, known for its lush rainforests and diverse wildlife, is a French-speaking country where nature and culture intertwine.
French is the language of education, and the Gabonese people take pride in their unique blend of traditional and modern influences.
Other African countries that speak French are Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Comoros, and Seychelles.
Also check, the Top 10 English speaking countries in Africa